Our advice on choosing the best safe for your home

When making home improvements or moving to another home, the addition of safes to the security budget is often overlooked. As safes can provide a wide range of protection for the valuable household items, it is important that buying a safe should be considered. For first time safe buyers, the lack of knowledge for purchasing a safe can be intimidating, but here are some answers to some of the most common questions about safes.

What should I ask a supplier or myself about safes?

When buying a safe you should ask yourself:

  • What do I want to protect and what how much is it worth?
  • Am I protecting against, fire, theft, or both?
  • What valuables do I plan to buy in the future?
  • What location would be best to install the safe in?
  • Do I want a key, combination, electronic, biometric lock?

You should ask the supplier:

  • What certification does this safe have?
  • What would be a suitable safe type for my needs?
  • What safe size is the right size for me?

Where did safes come from?

The original purpose for having a safe was to protect confidential company documents from the factory fires that occurred frequently during the Industrial Revolution. From there, the business of safe making expanded and allowed more personal models of safes that could be used in the home as well as the office. Safes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and locking options, from designer safes created by Karl Lagerfeld and Bentley, to small personal safes used in hotels.

How fire resistant are safes?

Most safes have a certain level of fire resistance, but only properly certified models provide reasonable levels of fire resistance. Certificates from the highly reputable SP along with the LFS and UL certificates are needed to ensure that the model of safe has adequate fire protection. There are 30-minute, 60-minute, 90-minute and 120-minute fire resistant standards, however it is important for sales people to know what will be in your safe. Because some forms of media are damaged at much lower temperatures than others, aF specialist data safe may be required to safeguard your valuables.

How secure are safes?

All safes provide security, but safes from well-known brands such as Chubbsafes and Burton will provide the best in protection. Safes from trusted brands are known to have been tested thoroughly, while cheaper models may not provide the measure of security that householders are expecting. When purchasing a safe, it is important to check its cash rating and its AIS certification. Cash ratings between £6,000 to £150,000 and AIS certification would mean that the safe you are purchasing is of the highest calibre and is accepted by all UK insurers.

Can I install my own safe?

If it is a small home safe then it is possible to install yourself, but it would be intuitive to use a someone who has been trained to install safes. A safe supplier can usually arrange a professional to help you install your recently purchased safe, and they will know all of the intricacies of the safe itself giving you the best location to install your safe as well as the best installation process. Some suppliers will assist in arranging internal lighting for safes located in darker areas.

What is a cash rating?

Security safes are categorised in what is called a cash rating. A cash rating is essentially how much money an insurance underwriter would insure the contents of the safe for. The net-worth of valuables and jewelry can be multiplied by a factor of ten of its cash rating. For example, a Grade 5: £100,000 safe can hold up to £1,000,000 in valuables. Logically the higher the cash rating, the better quality the safe is, but it is wise to buy a safe that fits your own personal needs. Safes with genuine cash ratings have been thoroughly tested in national testing laboratories to ensure that they meet the proper standards. Because of the strict quality control systems, safes with certificates from ECBS and British test houses - Sold Secure and the LPCB can be trusted to have the highest qualities.

These are the different grades and their cash ratings:

  • Grade 0: £6000
  • Grade 1: £10,000
  • Grade 2: £17,500
  • Grade 3: £35,000
  • Grade 4: £60,000
  • Grade 5: £100,000
  • Grade 6: £150,000
  • Grade 7: £250,000
  • Grade 8: £400,000
  • Grade 9: £650,000
  • Grade 10: £1,000,000
  • Grade 11: £1,500,000
  • Grade 12: £2,250,000
  • Grade 13: £3,500,000

How can I lock my safe?

Locking mechanisms range from simple key arrangements up to the more complex biometric locks. While mechanical locks have the disadvantage of losing the key, the only way to open your safe, and cheap mechanical locks can be easily broken in to, higher end locks can offer added benefits as well as better security to allow the peace of mind of knowing that your valuables are safe and where they need to be. Locks by Kaba & Insys can be programmed and controlled remotely by a network, which gives large organisations security and freedom with their employees. Biometric locks are relatively new, but new advances in technology from Insys and Burton Magnum Range have made Biometric locks more reliable, more secure, and easier to use.

How do I know if the safe is big enough for my needs?

Choosing a safe is an important decision. It would be wise to plan ahead at least two decades to find the best safe. If you have, or are planning to store large items, a Strongroom would be the best option. Strongrooms were originally developed for banks and government facilities, but have recently broken ground in the domestic market. A Strongroom has the ability to function as a large safe, similar to a bank vault, and a panic room to protect families from unwanted intruders.

This guest article was written by Robert Phillips from Safe Options. His website has produced other helpful guides on choosing the best safe for your needs.